Sunday, July 21, 2013

Car2Go is Free Until August 4th

Now You Can Go Carless Painlessly - -

You've probably already seen the blue and white Smart Cars sitting all over town with keys in the ignition. Once you've signed up, you can take any of them for a few minutes or across town and then leave it anywhere in Denver. No reservation needed.  Your smart phone instantly shows you where the closest one is.

For longer trips, sign up for E-Go CarShare, but you have to return it to their special spot.

This means that you can design your garage to store your stuff, and you don't need to pretend that your car will use it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Finally an Unvented Washer/Dryer that Works Pretty Good

The status quo method of drying clothes inside a house is a lousy method.  If you use an electric dryer, you are buying expensive heat to raise the temperature of the dryer airstream, and then you blow that air directly outside.  Whenever you blow air out of the house, it must be replaced with unconditioned air from outside.  So using your dryer causes you buy about twice as much heat as the dryer actually uses.  The hole in the side of your house for the dryer vent also tends to make the house leak more air than if you didn't have that hole.

"Heat pump dryers" are the most efficient way to dry clothes, but we can't buy 'em in the US yet.

"Condensing dryers" are currently the best alternative we have.  They dry the air by condensing the water vapor out of the air rather than blowing it outside.

LG and others make "combo" units that combine a washer and condensing dryer into the same appliance.  Not only does that save a lot of expensive real estate inside your house, the user doesn't have to transfer the clothes from the washer to the dryer.  Put your clothes in at night, wake up to clean and dry clothes. Cool.

I've been following the development of these appliances for 10 years, and found that they were unacceptable because they never got the clothes dry enough.

LG has a new model that seems to work.  The online reviews are by far the best I've seen for any washer/dryer.

So your new house can be designed without a dryer vent, which is a win-win.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Vacuum Insulation for Walls now Available

Dow has developed a very interesting product that achieves R39 per inch, which leapfrogs even aerogel in insulating performance:

It is also close to the theoretical limit for insulation space efficiency.  In a superinsulated home, this insulation can add 10% to the usable size of the home for a typical exterior footprint (because the walls can be thinner).  In a typical situation, that's a $15/sq.ft. savings.  Currently, I'm sure that this stuff will cost much more than $15 per finished square foot of home, however, so we have to wait until production costs come down.

The production costs can theoretically be very low, since it is apparently just a high tech bag of sand.  Vacuums contain nothing, so they can be made very cheaply with the right production equipment.

Drawbacks are that you can't cut or drive a screw through it since both operations cause loss of vacuum.  Hopefully, Dow engineers are working hard on those major issues.

Idea- The panel production could be on-site with a machine capable of producing custom sizes.